Hillary Clinton had better hope that few are paying attention over the long Labor Day weekend and that those who are quickly forget. And that the news flow just moves on to the next things over the week ahead, oblivious to the latest FBI reports and key non-endorsements which have come just before. Because otherwise she has some big new but not so new problems.
First, and of least importance, "Five Thirty Eight" stats expert Nate Silver, who reassured so many nervous Barack Obama supporters during the president's campaigns, chimed in as the long weekend began pointing out that Hillary's national lead over neo-fascist bully boy and frequent screw-up Donald Trump was sliding from the mid-single digits. And, even more ominously, that she should not expect her seeming electoral college edge, notably in the form of significant leads in key swing states in which she has spent very heavily and Trump has not, to hold up. That in fact those battleground state leads are already sliding.
While I've been pointing that out for awhile, this warning came from one of the originators of the theory of Democratic presidential invincibility. (Who also gave Trump a 2 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination, and so much for the statistical approach to politics.) In any event, when I sent Silver's assessment around, I received some more polling numbers indicating additional difficulties for Hillary.
But that stuff, though further verifying what I've been saying while most of of the media pushed inevitable Hillary (until, you know, now) is far less interesting than the Obama Justice Department's Friday afternoon document dump. The only good thing about it for Hillary is that Justice obligingly released it just before one of the biggest holiday weekends, and in one of the biggest travel periods of the year.
Because the actual content of the underlying FBI reports on Hillary's e-mail controversy raise serious questions about veracity and fundamental competence. As longtime readers know, I've always been sympathetic to Clinton's evident desire to short-circuit media gotcha games around her communications. But that is why you carry two devices -- one for official business as an office-holder and the other for everything else.
However, given that Hillary had an amazing 13 smartphones at various points during her tenure, and some were lost, it may just be that managing two devices was too much for the heavily-staffed but not computer-savvy Hillary. (Like Trump, she has not used a personal computer.)
Which gets at the most astounding thing about the Friday afternoon revelations. (Even more than her using a concussion as excuse for not knowing if she had received proper security orientation.)
Of course we know that she wants to keep obscure much if not most of her e-mail traffic. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that there is nothing nefarious in that. Though the cozy relationship between Clinton Foundation fundraising, access to the State Department, and some foreign decision-making might suggest otherwise. But I'm not so concerned about a politician being accessible to her donors, even if the secretary of state post is historically above such things. In any event, I want to put that issue to the side for this column.
So revelations that there were anymore seemingly relevant e-mails not turned over, or that the Clintons' tech admin hurriedly tried to delete e-mails as soon as House investigators demanded them, are as unsurprising as they are uninspiring.
What is surprising, and alarming, to my rather jaded sensibility is how ineptly the informational keys to the kingdom were handled by the Clintons.
By which I mean her entire e-mail archive as United States secretary of state, which basically tells an analyst what she did and why and which she so clearly wanted to be kept secret. This archive was compiled by Clinton staff, then handled in the most slipshod manner imaginable.
At one point, it was placed in an account on a web-based e-mail program. Then staffers believed it to have been deleted, after it copied to physical drives, only to be shown wrong by the FBI.
Most astoundingly, this archive, physically contained by a laptop and a thumb drive, was sent by regular mail to Hillary's new office, but reportedly lost in transit. Or perhaps, lost in the office itself.
Or, quite possibly, the subject of what is called a special collection by an intelligence service. Say, for example, one based in Moscow, which has already made such mischief for the Clintons and many top Democrats.
Why the Clintons did not employ a skilled courier to move such sensitive material is remarkably unclear. And if it ever did arrive, by, er, mail, why it was not immediately secured by her most senior staff is also remarkably unclear.
I was fairly certain before this that the Clinton operation has been penetrated by Russian intelligence. Unless spymaster President Vladimir Putin's operatives are nowhere near as on the ball as the original KGB -- which merely gave birth to the Putin regime itself -- it's hard not to imagine them taking advantage of such stupidity and incompetence.
So it's likely that the living Republican secretaries of state, whose support Hillary has sought to cement her commander-in-chief credentials against the wildly unqualified Trump, are happy now that they've decided against the pro-Clinton move.
George Shultz and Henry Kissinger will issue no endorsement, I've learned, instead pushing for "bipartisan" geopolitics.
Colin Powell was already perturbed with Hillary for claiming he had advised her to take this course with her e-mail. The FBI document dump shows that actually warned her against it. James Baker has shown no interest.
And it's unlikely that Condi Rice would go it alone in backing Hillary.
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